Opel GT Forum banner

1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
The weekend of September 28, 29, and 30th Team Unter Puff participated in the 24 Hours of Lemons Gator O Rama race at MSR race track in Angleton, Texas. It was fun and quite a roller coaster ride of ups and downs.

The team consisted of Nicolos, driving ace; Paul, berserker; Diaz, the Rock; and myself, mechanic extraordinaire (jokingly).

The car was prepared and shaken down months in advance. We had already driven it at an open track day at the same track and were very confident in the reliability of the car. With our upgraded cooling system the car started and ran every time we pushed the green button on the gauge panel.

Prior to this race we had to make a few finishing touches. We installed a 'custom' shift boot, bolted in a fire extinguisher, and completed our front and rear aero enhancements... out of plywood.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Friday we get to the track and unload the car. Luckily we had rented two spots under the permanent tarps. They were made of mesh, so rain came through, but it was much better than being in the open areas. Rain it did. The precipitation started out slowly and light. As time progressed so did the intensity and size of the drops. Originally I was deterred by this. The positive attitude of our team and the other participants convinced me that this was not a problem and we should continue on.

Diaz and I went into town for random supplies while our driving ace and resident berserker took turns on the track. Diaz later did one lap in the car on Friday and brought it in. At some point the car started smoking from the valve cover vent. The smoke’s velocity was consistent with the revs. We figured it was blow by, oh well too late now. The rain was getting worse. The fact that the car had no roof was not going to stop us from racing, but did help us to decide to head home from the test day. We packed everything up and headed for Houston and solid roofs.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Our solution for the smoke emitting from the valve cover was to run a six foot long hose under the car toward the back and allow the smoke to disperse. This worked really good for a while. There was so much water on the track that every car had large rooster tails behind them. Our smoke was not detectable until the rain stopped. Then it was extremely detectable.

Nic hit the track first. He was out there for a short while when he heard a clunk sound and the engine had a significant loss of power. He brought it in and we checked things out. It started fine, produced a lot of smoke and the rhythm was off, but it was drivable. Might as well send out another driver. Paul went toward the track. He did a few laps and brought it in. There was a terrible racket from the valve train. The car was not race able. We had no intention of rolling around on the soaking ground to fix it so we started packing it in. The Lemons judges were very insistent that we at least try to fix it and get back out there. Sure, why not at least diagnose the problem.

After removing the valve cover and poking around we discovered a rocker arm that had been dented by an intake valve. With the head on we could not figure how this happened, but no star sockets were present. Secondly we borrowed a compression tester from another team. Cylinder one two and three pumped up nicely and similarly to each other. Cylinder did not move the pressure gauge needle at all. NOTHING. We have a hole in a cylinder.

Now we tell the judges it is kaput. Keep trying they say, find some pistons and change them out. Craigslist is bound to have an available engine. We smile and walk away. Our spare engine is about three hours away, one way. As a team we decide conclusively that there are no available pistons and we are not going to mess with it. This is the end of this race for us. After packing up all of the tools and covering the car for retrieval the next day we disburse and head home.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
At my house we are unloading ice chests and dripping umbrellas when Diaz says to me ‘will these pistons fix that engine?’ He is pointing to a disassembled 1.9 CIH in my garage that I had one day planned to build a sweet race engine out of. I reply, ‘Yup’. We call Nic and tell him what we have. GO TIME.

Diaz and I go back to the track with the trailer and retrieve the car. We go straight to the shop to put in a long night. This should only take two or three hours… riiight.

We decide to do this whole thing with the engine in the car. Pros and Cons considered this seemed as good an idea as any. Valve cover, intake and exhaust, rockers, lifters all easy. Using a specially designed tool (big pipe on a big wrench) I break open the head bolts. Head off and there it is. The number four piston is missing a bit of it’s top and side.

To remove the oil pan we had to undo the engine cross member and the sway bar mounts that are screwed to it. The term screwed here has two meanings; more on that later. With no more engine mount and the engine suspended from a hoist getting at the main caps is easy. Luck for us all of the rod journals look fine and the bearings are good.

The new thirty year old pistons of questionable history have been soaking in a bucket of oil drained from the engine for a while. Using a cheap ring compressor we pop them into the block in a jiffy. Notches on the pistons forward. Nic makes sure that I am clocking the ring gaps, nope. I did on the next three but not on the first one to go in, number four. It should be fine. Main caps now, these notches must also face forward. Good thing I checked the FSM before closing things up because they don’t, ridiculous. With no torque wrench available I put them in with about as much elbow as it took to remove them.

The bottom end looks good, might as well button it up. Later we found out that you do not treat an old as heck oil pan gasket like a new one. Not enough oomph on the bolts was corrected later on with plenty more oomph.

Putting the engine cross member back under the car was a small act of congress. The sway bar mount has tabs that go between the body and the engine cross member. We could get it where we could see all of the way through the holes, but it was not 100% lined up. I got one side in and took a beer break. Nic was trying everything in the book to get his in. This included c-clamps, hammers, larger hammers, screw drivers, cussing, impact gun, kicking, jacking up the tire to better align the bar, and finally removing the bar from the front lower a-arm. More cussing finally got the job done. This activity consumed more than one hour, and about three hours worth of energy from the three of us.

I was delighted to see how easy putting the top on was. We had rotated the crank while the head was off, but never removed the upper cam sprocket from the chain. After lining the cam alignment pin up with the sprocket and bolting them together the valves operated in the correct order and orientation. That was very relieving. The rest of the top end and upper items went on with no problem. Around 2:45 in the morning we rolled the car outside to start it. We started at 6:30 by the way. Two or three strokes later it is breathing on it’s own. We are overjoyed and exhausted.

The car is now on the trailer. The tools are in the back of the truck. We sleep for two hours and head to the track.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Sunday Diaz did a few laps at a less aggressive pace. There was still smoke from the valve cover, but we assumed that was from the un-clocked piston rings. The engine sounded strong and we were not worried about that. As he got more confident he pushed the car a little more. He came around one corner and immediately spun out. There was no squealing tires or communication from the car, just instant spin. He started the car easily and drove into the black flag box before they actually black flagged him. When the judge saw us he immediately proclaimed ‘You got it running, you get a pass’. Unfortunately the car would not start. We rolled it back to our pit and got after it.

After checking fuel, spark, timing, valves, and consulting Native American spirits we were stumped. Diaz noticed that the lower coolant hose was hanging under the car. That might be it. Since the car was running great before that we concluded that the hose popped off and evacuated a bunch of water onto the track directly in front of his rear wheels causing the spin. Since he started it easily right then it was not over heated yet. We let the car cool for thirty minutes, filled it with coolant and she fired right up. Now it was Nic’s turn on the track. Before he went out we topped off the oil.

He was tearing it up. He was passing everyone and anyone in the turns and holding his own on the straights. I timed several of his laps and they were less than five seconds off his times he put in two months earlier. Those times were with the high compression pistons and these were with the fresh low compression pistons. That gave us a lot more confidence that we had completed our repair properly.

Nic was on the track for roughly forty five minutes when he came in. The radiator cap was emitting steam and the dip stick was bone dry, otherwise it was running like a champ. We had lunch and gave the car another thirty minute cool down session. Later we topped off the radiator which was only one half gallon low and added three full quarts of oil. My turn.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I started the car and it sounded great and the throttle was responsive. I head for the track entrance and was waved on. I round the entry lane, head down a straight in third gaining speed, let off over a hill, tap the brakes for the first set of turns, make the first turn, everything feels planted, setup for the second turn, go around the corner, do a three hundred twenty degree spin and end up in the grass. WTF? I watch the rear view mirror and see a pack of cars go buy. Some headed my way, but avoided me. I try starting the car and get a few cranks, none of them convincing. Eyes up and I see a red and white BMW that looks in heat and desires to mate with an Opel. I tighten up and hold on for the impact. I slide about fifteen feet farther into the grass and he stays roughly where I was. I guess beamers are quick about their business.

The safety crews come out and investigate. I ride in the car as I am towed back to the pits. The passenger side trailing arm mounting location was ripped from the body and the oil pan is leaking badly. This is it for the day. We set about the business of packing up our area. Judge Phil stops by to get the story. He urges us to stick around for the end of the race stating that the judges really like our story. Sure.

With our car not running the idea of driving up the trailer is out of the window. Plan B is for us to set the parking brake in the Tahoe which is attached to the trailer and tow the Opel up the trailer with Nic’s truck. We are lining up for this when the owner of the track rides a motorized bicycle by and stops to survey what we are doing. He double checks that what we are about to do is what he thinks we are about to do. He offers the use of a fork lift stating that our plan was one step away from ‘hold my beer’.

Now that the car is loaded and our area is policed we are free to enjoy the race. There was a pretty bar accident where a Nissan 280Z hit the wall and slid to the middle of the field. That stopped things for a while. The team that was leading the race earlier continued to execute consistent laps and won. At the awards we won the trophy for Heroic Fix. That was extremely satisfying to be recognized for the hard work.

Here is the Lemons / Car and Driver article where we are mentioned:
24 Hours of LeMons Gator-O-Rama: The Winners!
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Team Unter Puff is done

Two of our team member announced that this was their last race on Friday night. I was on the fence as to whether or not I was going to continue participating. I have a baby on the way and a brand new business. Money and time are tight. My partner, Nic, is die hard and wanted to continue. After the wreck we all agreed that this racing team has concluded it’s business and is now ceasing operations.

This car will not be repaired. I thoroughly enjoyed everything I have learned about Opels and fabrication from this website. Thank you to everyone who contributes. Whether or not I build a proper Opel sometime in the future is not decided. I will probably keep the engines for a while just in case I do build a nice car. I think Mantas are very nice looking cars.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,043 Posts
Great story and sad ending, for the team and the car. Thanks for the write-up and photos.

Also, I love what you did with the car. It would be a shame to see all that creativity and work end this way. I think another Opeler in your area should come and get it, fix it, and race it.

We've got spare motors where and we really need to get one ready to install if needed. We've gotten pretty good at getting them in and out again so if we lost a motor at a race and had brought a spare we could easily complete the swap before bedtime Saturday, get some sleep, and continue racing on Sunday. We'd need a pretty decent hoist, though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
If I did fix the car, it would be a while before it races again. I would build plate steel and pipe mounting locations for the trailing arms. Then set it up with some RB style trailing arms instead of the stock ones.

AND a huge rear diffuser.
 

·
101st Airborne 1/327 Inf
Joined
·
1,314 Posts
Come on Adam!!!!!!! Don't let one year, and a few bumps close the door on your Team Unter Puff adventure..... I'm sure the best is yet to come.:yup::yup:

:burnout::burnout:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Maybe I was being a bit over dramatic. After the race I was exhausted and ready to walk away. Now I sit looking at my poor race car and she is sad.

I think this has something to do with the stages of grief. I am now at the stage where I am willing to accept a whole lot more grief to keep building.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Great story

I hope that isn't the final chapter. Though it is a tough pill to swallow I am sure, family time is really important, and you will never get back the time when they are young. The right answer will become evident with time, whatever it is.

Sorry I never got to see the car again, I really enjoyed reading about your fabrication projects.

Best of luck,
-Charles (still with no running Opel)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Engine evaluation

So I finally got around to disassembling my race engine. I peaked in the driver's side crank case observation port. Found the problem. No connecting rod on the third crank throw.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
419 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
So the previous idea about hitting oil and going off track was correct, it was however my own oil. The block is all busted up inside. Odly enough the head looks ok on the bottom. I think there is a crack in it and am going to inspect further of course.
 

Attachments

1 - 20 of 27 Posts
Top